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THE INSIDE TRACK | NEWSWIRE

Hingis Keeps Her Cool, Will Face Seles in Final

March 28, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

Martina Hingis retained her racket, her composure and eventually her lead Thursday, serving an ace to finish off Jana Novotna, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, in a grueling semifinal match in the Lipton Championships at Key Biscayne, Fla.

Hingis improved to 25-0 this year, but not without difficulty, losing her cool in the heat and humidity of South Florida.

When she lost the first game of the final set, she sent her tennis racket skidding across the court and was booed and warned for racket abuse by the chair umpire.

"I got my first warning this tournament," Hingis, 16, said with a smile. "Still, not as bad as the other tournaments."

She regained the lead, then held on with no further outbursts and delivered the only ace of the match on the final point.

Saturday's final will pit the future No. 1 against former No. 1 Monica Seles, who beat Barbara Paulus, 6-1, 6-0, in 51 minutes. Seles, playing her first tournament this year, lost to Hingis, 6-2, 6-0, in their only previous meeting last November in Oakland.

Regardless of the outcome, the Swiss teenager will become the youngest No. 1 player in history when the new Women's Tennis Assn. Tour rankings are released Monday. She replaces Steffi Graf, who sat out the Lipton because of a knee injury.

In the men's draw, Jim Courier advanced to the semifinals by beating fourth-seeded Goran Ivanisevic, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2). Courier, seeking his biggest tournament title since 1993, will face No. 2 Thomas Muster, who defeated Jonas Bjorkman, 7-5, 6-2.

It took Hingis nearly two hours to eliminate third-seeded Novotna on a steamy afternoon in which a scoreboard reported the court temperature at 105 degrees.

"One hundred five," Novotna said. "It's like, 'Nice, frying, let's pour some olive oil over me.' "

*

Dorothy Matthiessen of Pasadena has been named to the U.S. Women's 60 team that will compete against teams for the Alice Marble Cup in Adelaide, Australia, April 5-11.

Football

The bowl alliance reportedly has decided not to include a Western Athletic Conference champion ranked lower than No. 6 in the nation, and the WAC representative to the NCAA board of directors, Nevada Las Vegas President Carol Harter, has been directed to protest to the board.

The WAC had proposed that its champion be included in the alliance if ranked in the top 12.

The alliance is a group of four conferences, representatives of the Orange, Fiesta and Sugar bowls and the television networks.

WAC champion Brigham Young, which finished the 1996 season ranked No. 5, was snubbed by the alliance and accepted an invitation to the Cotton Bowl.

The Big West Conference, apparently shut out of the Las Vegas Bowl, which is seeking a new format, will pursue establishing a new postseason bowl game for the coming season in Boise, Idaho.

The Big West has sent its champion to Las Vegas for the last five years to play the winner of the Mid-American Conference.

But the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said it plans to drop its current conference alignments in favor of a game featuring a team from the WAC and an at-large opponent.

Soccer

One of Europe's top referees, Kurt Roethlisberger of Switzerland, has been banned for life for allegedly offering to have another referee fix a Champions Cup game last year.

UEFA, soccer's European governing body, said Roethlisberger had contacted the Grasshoppers of Switzerland and asked if they would be interested in having a referee favor them in a match with Auxerre of France. Vadim Zhuk of Belarus was the referee, and the sum of $70,000 was suggested.

Grasshopper officials contacted UEFA, prompting an investigation which includes Zhuk, who has not been charged, but who will not officiate until he is cleared.

Roethlisberger, who has said his conversations with the Grasshoppers described in theoretical terms how a game could be fixed, has threatened legal action.

Miscellany

Michigan's quest to become the first team in 25 years to repeat as college hockey's national champion was crushed in Milwaukee in a shocking 3-2 upset by Boston University, the last school to accomplish the feat.

The Terriers (26-8-6) will face North Dakota (30-10-2), which waited 10 years to return to hockey's Final Four, for the 50th NCAA championship Saturday. North Dakota defeated Colorado College, 6-2.

Auburn freshman Brett Hawke upset NCAA record-holder Neil Walker of Texas in the 50-yard freestyle, helping the Tigers take a commanding lead after the first day of the NCAA men's swimming and diving championships at Minneapolis. USC is in fourth place, sparked by a 4-5-6 finish in the 500 freestyle.

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